The former Sheriff of Limestone County, Alabama, Mike Blakely was found guilty on corruption charges, then one juror tried to take her guilty vote back. She claims she was bullied into it by other jurors. Tough, the judge declared, the verdict stands and there will not be a mistrial.
Juror claims duress
On Friday, August 6, Judge Pamela Baschab “denied a motion to overturn two guilty verdicts against former Limestone Sheriff Mike Blakely and declare a mistrial in the case.” His defense team couldn’t pull the paperwork out of the laser printer fast enough to get it to the courthouse.
The motion they filed cites “a juror who claimed she was under such duress during the trial that she ‘incorrectly’ told other jurors and Baschab that her vote was guilty when it wasn’t. “So what?” Asks the judge.
Juror Sue McEwan Pentecost wasn’t afraid to identify herself in her affidavit, publicly filed along with the motion.
She insists that “she’s suffered from medical conditions, including heart issues and stage 4 breast cancer, that led her to experience heart palpitations, fatigue, inability to think logically and more while in deliberation.” The other panel members told her to sit down, shut up and let them do the thinking then.
According to the waffling juror, her “medical condition is what caused me to incorrectly tell other jurors and the judge that my vote was guilty on Count 2 and Count 13 even though it was not.”
“I watched the whole trial, I took detailed notes, and I walked away convinced the State of Alabama failed to reach their burden on all counts.”
On borrowed time
On top of her medical condition, the juror insists the foreman was “chosen without a vote” and the woman who appointed herself Queen yelled at the others, “making it sound like this was her courtroom, her rules and the Judge’s instructions didn’t matter.”
Ms. Pentecost “wanted to get out of that room because I feared I was about to die from either a stroke or brain bleed.”
The 74-year-old juror adds that “she’d been told by doctors that she wouldn’t live to see last Christmas.” Ms. Pentecost is convinced she’s “still on this earth for a reason and am on borrowed time. I can’t leave this world knowing that my health issues and AFib compromised my abilities to be forthright with this Court.”
The prosecutors couldn’t wait to file a response motion. They “cite multiple reasons for which the motion should be denied, the first being that such a motion ‘is not proper until a defendant has been sentenced.'” That’s nit-picky but correct. More importantly there are more solid reasons to deny it.
Alabama has “a historic and strict ‘anti-impeachment’ rule that precludes jurors from attacking or impeaching their own verdict.”
That means that “no juror is competent to testify to any matter or statement occurring during the jury deliberations, to the effect of anything upon the mind or emotion of any juror, or to the mental processes of the juror whose testimony or affidavit is being offered.” That means the defense team can stick it in their ear. The judge agreed.